The Amazing Race (1)
USA, SOUTH AFRICA, ZAMBIA, FRANCE, TUNISIA, ITALY, INDIA, THAILAND, CHINA
– Seeing Phil stumble in the opening, either due to the cold or the nervousness, is humorous to see. It takes about fifteen seconds before he appears in his first turtleneck. It’s black, baby.
Travel packets instead of clues. “Open up your packets.”
– It’s the first season. Extremely refreshing to see the documentary style of how it was filmed. Little to no music builds its image of being authentic. The lack of confessionals helps because you don’t get the sense of a storyline being created. Their conversations while traveling is something you don’t see too much anymore.
– Frank knowing there’s a chance they lost while Margarita refuses to believe Rob & Brennan could win in Queens.
– One of only four seasons to feature the perfect version of the Fast Forward twist. I could list twenty reasons why it works extremely well as a strategic and entertaining component in the Race, and zero reasons for why it should be removed.
– Teams had the option of hiring drivers for their vehicles.
– A good all-around route for a first season.
– The more hated and boring teams go home early.
– Steady stream of hilarious quotes from Kevin & Drew.
– Hours of operation weren’t fixed to make the teams equal. The race had an aura of feeling legitimate from start to finish.
– The Africa sections had great tasks.
– Production didn’t shy away from making India more manageable to travel through. Walking with rats and sleeping on trains filled with puke is what the race should be all about.
– The pointless rivalry between Guidos and Kevin & Drew.
– Rob & Brennan paying three hundred bucks for somebody’s cell phone in Alaska and promising them to mail it after the race. I have a feeling that woman received much more than three hundred bucks after Rob & Brennan received a million dollar cheque thanks to her. I am sure everyone who rejected Rob & Brennan’s request in Alaska must be kicking themselves. That money was their ticket out of the frozen version of hell.
– The locals laughing at Nancy & Emily. On the surface, I remember this scene and thinking how bad it must be to be in Nancy & Emily’s shoes. But then I can picture the locals looking at these tourists who have a camera and sound personnel with them, and thinking ‘why are they acting as if they’ve just been placed under arrest and waiting for the U.S. Embassy to intervene on their behalf?’
– Matt & Ana getting frustrated over nobody in a remote Zambian village not having the decency to speak English. Congratulations Matt & Ana, you earn the distinction of uttering the first ignorant remark on the race.
– The clues being clues as opposed to “Go to point X then point Y”. The smoke that thunders or a picture on a lighter is so much more awesome.
– Nancy & Emily, prior to a re-watch, stayed in my mind as a long-time favourite. I watch this season again…and they are effin’ annoying. They whine and cry at virtually every turn. And we’re supposed to sympathize just because they’re “underdogs”? I guess that’s what happens when you’re the first mother/daughter team.
– The final leg of the race. I can see how in the first ever televised worldwide race that they can get away with doing virtually nothing in the last twenty minutes and strictly rely on the anticipation. When you compare it to eighteen other season finales, it probably seems like the most unfair and easiest final city that any group of finalists have gone through. No detours in NYC. No roadblocks. They only had to catch a cab to a route marker then take the subway to the finish line. Then they talked about how the money would change their lives.
– Too many detours were “choose a location hard to find but fun to do” vs. “choose a location easy to find but difficult to do”.
– Too many tasks were completed before they flew to their next country in some legs, rendering the current progress moot and have it all come down to a single taxi ride.
– The last four hours of the season was Frank & Margarita vs. Rob & Brennan. No other storylines existed.
– Few legs feature a “wow, that’s a creative, disgusting, or appealing task” to stand out.
– Not the most memorable of seasons.
– No penalties for coming in last on a non-elimination leg. -_-
Best to Worst Episodes of the Season:
Leg 11: Pai Plong Beach -> Beijing (Where racing around the world without production interference in “Hours of operation”. I’m proud of the crew for letting a legitimate leg take place as opposed to making it more exciting. So what if we know two teams have zero percent chance of winning with two more legs yet to play? A real race around the world shouldn’t be too close in the first place. The showdown between Joe & Bill vs. Kevin & Drew is the best battle in any non-finale episode. The final elimination takes place via the classic “taxi effed us over despite being ahead”
Leg 10: King -> Pai Plong Beach (Where racing around the world without production interference in “Hours of operation”. I’m proud of the crew for letting a legitimate leg take place as opposed to making it more exciting. So what if we know two teams have zero percent chance of winning with three more legs yet to play? A real race around the world shouldn’t be too close in the first place. Kevin & Drew’s swimming technique is classic.)
Leg 9: Bairiki -> Krabi (Such an unusual finish to the leg.)
Leg 1: NYC -> Songwe, Zambia (It’s the first leg ever. Clues in sealed envelopes were called packets. Frank Mesa could‘ve toned it down a notch. Paul & Ana are very satisfying as a first exit.)
Leg 13: Some random place in Alaska nobody cares about -> NYC (One of the most poorly conceived legs in TAR history. Only reason why it’s this high is because the ending is such a classic and an upset by the fan favourites.
Leg 5: El Jem -> Tatouine (Neat walkie-talkie and unique environment. Watching Amie puke into a plastic bag is classic. Maybe too much camel action? This episode seems like the skeleton for Burnett’s adventure show over a decade later.)
Leg 3: Paris -> South of France (Great strategy whether or not to waste your money to get to La Grand Roue in the middle of the night. Good trick with Foucault’s Pendulum. It would’ve been different if ALL teams were bunched together and the order of entering the sewer made the difference, but luckily it didn’t.)
Leg 4: South of France -> El Jem (Gladiators and neat trick with the lighter. Figuring out which country to go to in the first place is also unusual. Marketplace seemed fun.)
Leg 8: Delhi -> Bairiki (Perfect leg until unnecessary 6 hour gap for the final task of the leg. Non-elimination drops it down too.
Leg 7: Italy -> Agra (They do everything in Italy except for one ten minute task and a taxi ride to the pit stop? That’s a leg with 99% luck.)
Leg 2: Songwe -> Paris (Go all the way to Paris just for one lousy task? That’s a bit of a letdown. All you need is a good eye and you win.)
Leg 6: Gabes -> Rome (The least challenging leg in the Race. It was the first non-elimination. Zero suspense built as to who would be eliminated. The only interesting task was to drive a Smart car. That’s when you know you don’t have much ideas. The fight with Joe & Bill was annoying with the sexist comments made by Drew and Rob that took up half of the episode. A very non-professional episode.)
Leg 12: Beijing -> Scotty Lake (What an effing boring leg.)
Least favourite to favourite teams:
11. Matt & Ana – You’re in it for one leg and you make fun of people in the middle of Zambia for not speaking English.
10. Kim & Leslie – I think it’s safe to say they were bullies. The way they picked on Amie for no apparent reason in the second leg probably helped people love the show more because karma reared its head and sent Kim & Leslie unpacking by the end of the episode. Editing may have painted them as the “bad guys” in the fight with Amie simply because they are the first to die, but hey, all we get to see are interviews online and the episodes themselves. Not all of us get the privilege of seeing them at a charity event.
9. Nancy & Emily – I believe I already covered the subject of why I don’t like them as much as a decade ago. Amazing how your perspective of admirable qualities in people changes from when you’re nine years old to when you’re twenty.
8. Paul & Amie – Here’s essentially what happens between this couple in every episode:
AMIE: I can’t believe _____ happened. We have such bad luck when it comes to ______.
(AMIE proceeds to do her best Baby-Mario-Just-Broke-Off-From-Yoshi cry.)
PAUL: Why you cryin? Why you cryin?! WHY YOU CRYIN?!
AMIE (still crying): I don’t wanna go home!!!!
PAUL: We can go home if you like. You know I don’t want to be here. So, we’ll just go home. You f—ing happy?
(AMIE pukes on the ground.)
PAUL: Oh great. F— this s—! You, local! Tell me how to get there. How do I get there? Good. Let’s go.
(AMIE wipes away her tears as they continue racing.
PAUL: God, I don’t wanna be here. This was all your idea.
(AMIE spontaneously combusts.)
PAUL: F— me.
Seriously, this happens EVERY episode. Go back and re-watch if you don’t believe me.
7. Pat & Brenda – Ah yes. The only team besides those in the final four to use the fast forward. As soon as you see them get a confessional, you know they’ll be ousted in the same episode. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about them besides that they are adventure seeking mothers. In fact, the first three teams eliminated did not have a shred of storyline with the exception of a confessional or a fight in the episode they’re eliminated. I can’t recall Pat & Brenda ever having a scene that had them interacting with another team. Maybe that’s why they’re so freakin’ unmemorable. I guess that’s what happens when you are insignificant in the series premiere, take the Fast Forward on the second leg, then be by yourself wondering around on the third. Hope the adventure was worth it, Pat & Brenda.
6. Dave & Margareta – The original old couple. Not only were they old, but they were likeable. In fact, every team cheered them on when they were eliminated. Yes, even Frank Mesa and Guidos were rooting for their success as the grandparents approached their demise. In the future, we’d see plenty of old couples who flat out sucked or only get far because of hitting the non-eliminations perfectly. This is not the case with Dave & Margareta. They were eliminated via ‘my cab is pushy and won’t accept my money’ route. It was refreshing to see a team lose because of a strict cabbie as opposed to a slow or a foolish one. This is definitely one of the more unusual ways for you to be eliminated. The only reason this team isn’t higher is because they weren’t as entertaining and I didn’t hate any of the end-game teams enough to put them below the old couple. Consider Dave & Margarita the bench mark for star teams in the inaugural race.
5. Joe & Bill – The only time where calling someone “Guido” was acceptable until Jersey Shore debuted on television. I don’t understand the hype about Guidos before, during, and after watching the first season. I could re-watch the season ten more times and think “yes, they were entertaining…but were they THAT entertaining?”
A common mistake many teams make heading into The Amazing Race is they believe backstabbing and cutthroat behaviour take place in the same manner that they do on Survivor. Unfortunately, they are very wrong. You can’t vote out other teams. The only things you can really do is cut in line, direct others to the wrong route marker, or cancel their taxis. That’s about all you can do in TAR until you hit the yield twist. For Joe & Bill, I believe they think it was supposed to be a cutthroat game, but all of their self-proclaimed moves were nothing more than toying with the other teams.
“Yes, I’ll buy everyone’s tickets because I am the only one who can speak French fluently. That’s how good I am, you guys.”
“Let’s block the path to the plane and cause a ten minute delay. You know, just to piss them off.”
“Let’s make an alliance with the top two teams at the end of the first leg, but break it off as soon as we get to the roadblock in the next leg. You know, just to piss them off.”
If I had to give my assessment, I would say Joe & Bill played up the persona that they were cutthroat to the camera, but between themselves, they wanted to do these pranks simply to gauge a reaction from the other teams while enjoying the humour of it. If the latter is true, I am on board with the Guido Train because that’s plain funny. They remind me of Richard Hatch in a sense because Hatch never really took Survivor seriously, but always found a way to have fun and annoy others while getting himself deep in the game regardless if he has a humiliating downfall. Producers love villains who set themselves up for a downfall that could lead to great mockery (“I’ve been bamboozled!”). That’s why Guidos were so quickly cast for an All-Star.
Not to mention, just like Richard Hatch, the players around them would take any chance they could all season long for the best nickname and best insult for Team Guido. That was a competition likely worth more than the million dollar prize itself.
The funniest part about their storyline is that they are the only team in the season to screw up an advantageous Fast Forward to the point they have to suffer through four legs of being twenty-four hours behind the frontrunners. What’s funnier is that they think they can still catch up until they receive a clue thousands of miles away from the finish line that the Race has ended without their presence. Classic.
4. Frank & Margarita – The runner-ups. Unless you were a native of Queens, I highly doubt you were rooting for these to win at the end. Heck, you probably weren’t rooting for them from the first episode! I was surprised to see how much trash talk there was about Frank on YouTube, but I think that was a case of people ganging on his reputation from ten years ago. Let’s face it, if you say you were cheering for Frank, everyone would start flaming you online. I’m going to state the unpopular opinion and say Frank deserves a medal for his entertainment value and for his intriguing personality. He wasn’t over-the-top screaming and pushing his own team-mate (I’m looking at you Jonathan Baker) and he didn’t get into direct conflict with other teams. I was surprised how little of the inter-team dynamics involved Mr. Mesa. He had an alliance with Guidos and Rob & Brennan that was broken thanks to the Guidos, then he created a friendly rivalry with Rob & Brennan. Other than that, Frank kept his nose clean on the race. He is just a good character that was easy to hate on from time to time.
3. Rob & Brennan – Wherever you rank Frank & Margarita, I believe you must have Rob & Brennan one little notch above. These two teams were in the same position for virtually the entire race, and not only did they have the same all around skill level, but they were the perfect dichotomy of “good” vs. “evil”. In future TAR rivalries, this line would be much more blurred. Watch the end of the race when these two teams are in Queens. Frank & Margarita are overconfident they have the win in the bag because the finish line is in their borough and laugh at the idea of Rob & Brennan trying to keep up. Meanwhile, Rob & Brennan acknowledge how royally screwed they are, but rather than give up or whine about how unfair the location is, they do their best to stay on and eventually pass Frank & Margarita’s tail on the race. They were willing to win and lose with the exact same level of grace.
In a random note, is it just me or did Rob stand out much more than his partner? I can picture Rob talking and how he looks in my mind and paid attention to him more than Brennan. Pardon the slight shot at Brennan, but does anyone agree with that assessment? It reminds me of how certain tribes cement their legacy in my mind at the start of a Survivor season compared to their counterpart. Odd, I know.
2. Lenny & Karyn – Okay, you’re probably wondering why Lenny & Karyn, a team that only made it through seven legs of the Race and wasn’t asked for an all-star are in second place. I’ll give you some background on it.
When The Amazing Race 1 premiered, my sister had moved back in my parents’ house. My brothers were out all the time, my dad worked, and my mom talked on the phone too much to follow a reality show she hadn’t really heard about. So when I watched The Amazing Race, it was typically with my sister. After a few episodes, we couldn’t help but notice how one team who was rarely shown, would talk in the same manner every time they snagged a rare piece of airtime.
(LENNY quietly speaks to Karyn about how he couldn’t get directions. The sound crew can’t pick up LENNY’s frequency.)
KARYN: What?! I can’t believe you!!!!
(LENNY shrugs and walks away.)
It reminded me of the woman from Singin in the Rain. How can someone’s voice get like that? My sister and I quickly picked up on this, and for the next few years, we would break out our Karyn voice whenever it was deemed appropriate.
SISTER: Logannnnnnn, can you get me a diet coke from the fridge?
ME: Yeah, I guess I can get it in a minute.
SISTER: Logannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, why not now?
ME: Fine, I guess I’ll get it.
Thanks to Lenny’s silent nature and not getting more than ten words all season in contrast with Karyn, well, getting the same word in about thirty times in the season, we thank them for bringing joy to me and my sister’s conversations.
Yeah, I don’t have much else to say about them. They had zero airtime in the series premiere, and after that were only shown if Karyn was yelling at LENNYYYYYYYYYYY.
1. Kevin & Drew – They easily earn their position at the top of the list. From “swing bastard swing!” to Kevin swatting Drew’s butt while sad background music plays as they exit a Chinese palace, Kevin & Drew stand alone as comedic relief.
In their eyes, there was no such thing as Joe & Bill or Team Guido — it was Bert & Ernie. They would be angry with each other for no reason. They would be angry with other teams for no reason. They would coach each other how to behave to persuade locals to help you.
At the beginning, Kevin & Drew frequently finish near the bottom, but after only three or four legs, they are constant frontrunners. Yes, the fat, out of shape and belligerent New Yorkers were dominating the middle sections of the race. At one point they were viewed as being virtually unbeatable. In fact, the only reason they get eliminated is because their taxi was sloppy, otherwise they would have been stuck in Alaska twenty-four hours behind the others. I’m sure finishing fourth was much better than third after the fact. Their rivalry with Guidos had the award for best rivalry in The Amazing Race for several seasons. I am certain producers expected the rivalry to continue in All Stars.
You know what else was great about these two? Everything they did could crack you up, regardless of it being intentional or not. They entertain you in a very natural way. That’s why they were a shoe-in to be selected for All Stars. I am sure the producers reviewed the ten funniest quotes from season one, and I can guarantee you all ten were uttered by either Kevin or Drew. How could anyone dislike these two? They managed to be the only team to get a pre-all star cameo for crying out loud!
P.S. It’s too bad they tarnished their reputation and legacy in All Stars. Thankfully we have this first season to celebrate and remember the positive attributes of Kevin & Drew.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with The Amazing Race prototype. If you don’t like this season, then why do you watch this show in the first place? As you can see, there is nothing controversial that is worthy of discussion. Sure, there are bad taxi eliminations, but that happens in every season. The cast neither excelled in terms of personality overall, nor did they fail by driving the viewers nuts. It’s a relatively calm season given that many of the early sections are filled with a wee bit of drama until it drops off for a ‘nice watch’ in the last few legs.
Is it worth a watch? Yes. Just like Survivor: Borneo, it’s neat to go back to a show’s roots.
Does it feature over-the-top behaviour: No, not even close.
Current Ranking: 1/1